Monday, 4 July 2011

sleeping paralysis(here is a common dream as described by a blogger)

please give your comments if you've experienced similar dreams as described below

This has been a reoccurring pattern in dreams: unable to lift arms, hold small things, inability to hold myself up.

In my particular dream last night, I was in an unfamiliar house with my brother and his friend, I was feeling weak, my mother came in and I asked her if she could bring me home, and she made up an excuse as to why I couldn't. I reacted badly to that, then all of a sudden my ex-girlfriend appeared in the room, she said something along the lines of,
"I figured out a way to control my emotions, if I sleep with people I can handle it."

And naturally, I was like, "Excuse me!? And I asked who she'd had sex with." and she said something like, 'someone from the food club.' That was confusing.

Okay, so now I'm really upset, and I went to go find my dad, but I was tripping all over the place and my legs just weren't cooperating. I had to hold onto things to stay up, when I finally got to my dad, he looked really upset.

I asked, "Where's mom?"
He said, "She went to run an errand."
"I need to go hhhme." (my speech died off)
In a raspy tone this is what I managed to make out, "Avery is [in] room. [Sh]e tol[d] me [sh]e was [sleeping] [w]ith [o]ther pe[ople]" The brackets are the sounds and words that I couldn't say.

I remember feeling a tightness in my chest, in my sleep.

Then I watch my dad go up and retrieve Avery, my ex, from the room, he's disciplining her, when she walks by, I'm leaning over a rail trying to say things like, "You're a dirty whore" and all these bad things. And she just looks at me like she did nothing wrong.

And that was the most of my dream that really didn't make sense to me.

Friday, 24 June 2011


What are Dreams?

A dream is, basically, a hallucination. Your deepest feelings and thoughts are always "in there somewhere," but during R.E.M (Rapid Eye Movement - Deep Sleep). sleep, something's different.

During the day, your brain produces a chemical that keeps you focused on reality. That chemical is the only thing standing between you, and a constant state of confusion. Without that chemical, you'd never know the difference between what's really happening, and whatever fleeting thoughts you might happen to have.

Without that chemical, every feeling, memory, bout of inspiration, and analytical thought process would all seem to be "out there" in the real world. You'd see, smell, hear, taste and touch all your thoughts as if they weren't thoughts at all.

While you sleep, that chemical is suppressed, and after a few hours of solid sleep, its effect wears off in the brain. That's when you start to dream.


"I'm Being Chased!"

You are entering the mysterious and fascinating world of dreams, where the rules of reality do not apply.In understanding your dreams, you will gain a clearer view on your personal relationships, an uncensored view of your real feelings and a better perspective on life issues..your dreams are unique; no other individual can have your background, your emotions, or your experiences. Thus, every dream can only be connected to your own "reality". In interpreting your dreams, it is important to draw from your personal life and experiences.

A dream has the power to unify the body, mind, and spirit. It provides you with insight into your own self and a means for self-exploration. In understanding your dreams, you will gain a better understanding and discovery of your true self.

"I'm Being Chased!"

Chase dreams are one of several common dream themes, stemming from feelings of anxiety in your waking life. Flee and flight is an instinctive response to a physical threat in the environment. In such dreams, the scenario often features you being pursued by an attacker, an animal, a monster or an unknown figure, who wants to hurt or possibly kill you. Consequently, you run, you hide or you try to outwit your pursuer. Your actions in the dream parallel how you would respond to pressure and cope with fears, stress or various situations in your waking life. Instead of confronting the situation, your dream indicates that you have a tendency to run away and avoid the issue. Ask yourself who is chasing you, so that you can gain a better understanding and insight on the source of your fears and anxieties.

The pursuer or attacker who is chasing you in your dream may also represent an aspect of yourself. Your own feelings of anger, jealousy, fear, and possibly love, can manifest itself as the threatening figure. Or the shadowy figure can symbolize the rejected characteristics of your Self. You may be projecting these feelings onto the unknown chaser. Next time you have a dream of being chased, turn around and confront your pursuer. Ask them why they are chasing you. What are you trying to run from?

If you are the one doing the chasing, then the dream may highlight your drive and ambition to go after something you want. Or perhaps the dream suggests that you are falling behind and having to catch up with everyone else.

Consider the distance or gap between you and your pursuer. This indicates your closeness to the issue. If the pursuer is gaining on you, then it suggests that the problem is not going to go away. The problem will surround you, until you confront and address it. However, if you are able to widen the gap between your pursuer, then you are able to successfully distance yourself from the problem. In essence, the problem is fading away.

A more direct analysis of chase dreams is the fear of being attacked. Such dreams are more common among women than men, who may feel physically vulnerable in the urban environment. These dreams are often brought about by the media, who magnifies fears of violence and sexual assault.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

PERFECT MEMORY(how to use your brain)

In this series i will try to help you get info on how to best use your brain/mind......i will cover topics such as ,how to remember speeches,directions,how to create a mental diary etc......we'll start of with a simple list....this can be a shopping list,to do list,process list...for those times when there is nothing to write with or on..and give feedback on topics you would like featured .thank you.



A list of ten items, whatever they are, should not present a challenge to our
memory, and yet it does. Take a simple shopping list, for example. Try
memorizing the following, without writing any of it down, within one minute.

• fish • football
• margarine • ladder
• chess set • clock
• milk • tape measure
• light bulb • dog bowl

Most people can remember somewhere between four and seven items. And
there was I announcing in the introduction that you have an amazing memory.
It wasn't an idle boast. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to
remember any ten items perfectly in order, even backwards in under one
minute. To prove my point, try doing the following two simple exercises.


Think back over what you have done so far today. What time did you get up?
What was on the radio or television? Can you remember your journey into
work? What mood were you in when you arrived? Did you go anywhere on
foot, or in a car? Who did you meet?

Frustrating, isn't it? Your memory has no problem at all recalling these
everyday, mundane experiences (ironically, the forgettable things in life) and
yet it can't recall a simple shopping list when required. If you were to take this
exercise a stage further and write down everything you could remember about
today, however trivial or tedious, you would be amazed at the hundreds of
memories that came flooding back.

Some things are undoubtedly easier to remember than others, events that
involve travel, for example. When I think back over a day, or perhaps a holiday,
the most vivid memories are associated with a journey. Perhaps I was on a
train, or walking through the park, or on a coach; I can remember what
happened at certain points along the way. A journey gives structure to the otherwise
ramshackle collection of memories in your head; it helps you to keep
them in order, like a filing cabinet.


If, like me, you found the first exercise a little depressing, revealing more
about the ordinariness of your life than about your memory, you should enjoy
this experiment. Try to imagine a day. Exaggerate and distort your normal
Wake up in an enormous, feathersoft bed to the sound of birdsong; a beautiful
lover is lying asleep beside you; pull back the curtains to reveal sunsoaked
hills rolling down to a sparkling sea. An enormous schooner is at
anchor in the bay, its fresh, white linen sails flapping in the Mediterranean
breeze. Breakfast has been made; the post comes and, for once, you decide
to open the envelope saying 'You have won a £1 million.' You have! etc, etc.
Your dream day might be quite different from mine, of course. But if you were
to put this book down and I were to ask you in an hour's time to recall the fruits
of your wild imagination, you should be able to remember everything you
dreamt up.
Imagined events are almost as easy to recall as real ones, particularly
if they are exaggerated and pleasurable. (No one likes to remember a
bad dream.) This is because the imagination and memory are both concerned
with the forming of mental images.
Returning from the sublime to the ridiculous, you are now in a position to
remember the ten items on our shopping list, armed with the results of these
two experiments. Keep an open mind as you read the following few


To remember the list, 'place' each item of shopping at individual stages along a
familiar journey - it might be around your house, down to the shops, or a bus
For these singularly boring items to become memorable, you are going to
have to exaggerate them, creating bizarre mental images at each stage of the
journey. Imagine an enormous, gulping fish flapping around your bedroom, for
example, covering the duvet with slimy scales. Or picture a bath full of
margarine, every time you turn on the taps, more warm margarine comes oozing
This is the basis of my entire memory system:


Later on, when you need to remember the list, you are going to 'walk' around
the journey, moving from stage to stage and recalling each object as you go.
The journey provides order, linking items together. Your imagination makes
each one memorable.


Choose a familiar journey. A simple route around your house is as good as any.
If there are ten items to remember, the journey must consist of ten stages. Give
it a logical starting point, places along the way and a finishing point. Now learn
it. Once you have committed this to memory, you can use it for remembering
ten phone numbers, ten people, ten appointments, ten of anything, over and
over again.


Stage 1: your bedroom Stage 6: kitchen
Stage 2: bathroom Stage 7: front door
Stage 3: spare room Stage 8: front garden
Stage 4: stairs Stage 9: road
Stage 5: lounge Stage 10: house opposite

At each stage on the map, close your eyes and visualize your own home. For
the purposes of demonstration, I have chosen a simple two-up, two-down
house. If you live in a flat or bungalow, replace the stairs with a corridor or
another room. Whatever rooms you use, make sure the journey has a logical
direction. For instance, I would not walk from my bedroom through the front
garden to get to the bathroom. The sequence must be obvious. It then becomes
much easier to preserve the natural order of the list you intend to memorize.
If you are having difficulty, try to imagine yourself floating through your
house, visualizing as much of the layout at each stage as you can. Practise this
a few times. When you can remember the journey without having to look at
your map, you are ready to attempt the shopping list itself. This time, I hope,
with markedly different results.
That shopping list again:

Item 1: fish Item 6: football
Item 2: margarine Item 7: ladder
Item 3: chess set Item 8: clock
Item 4: milk Item 9: tape
Item 5: light bulb Item 10: dog bowl


Using your imagination, you are going to repeat the journey, but this time
'placing' each object at the corresponding stage. The intention, remember, is to
create a series of bizarre mental images, so out of the ordinary that you can't
help remembering them. Have you ever seen chess pieces standing six feet
high and shouting at each other, in your spare room? And what are all those
hundreds of smashed milk bottles doing on the stairs?
Make the scenes as unusual as possible. Use all your senses; taste, touch,
smell, hear and see everything. The more senses you can bring to bear, the
more memorable the image will be. (For instance, if we want to remember a
word on a page, we often say it out aloud.) Movement is also important, and
so is sex.
Don't be embarrassed by your own creativity. There are no rules when it
comes to exploring your imagination. You are the only member of the audience.
Shock yourself! You will remember the scene more vividly. The more
wild and exaggerated, the easier it will be to remember. Let your imagination
run riot; it is the only thing limiting your memory.


To show you what I mean, here is how I would memorize the list:

Stage 1:
I wake up in my bedroom to find that I am holding a fishing rod. At the end
of the line is a huge slimy fish flapping frantically at the foot of my bed.
I use all my senses: I see the rod arcing, I hear the spool clicking, I feel the pull
of the line, I smell the foul, fishy odour, I touch its scales.

Stage 2:
I go to the bathroom to take a shower. Instead of hot water, a thick margarine
oozes from the shower head and drips all over me.
I feel the warm, sticky texture and see the bright, fluorescent yellow colour.

Stage 3:
I walk into the spare room and discover a giant chess set. Like something out
of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the pieces are coming alive.
I can hear them shouting obscenities at each other, insulting each other's king
and queen.

Stage 4:
The staircase is cluttered with hundreds of milk bottles, some of them, half
empty, even broken. The milkman is standing at the bottom of the stairs,
apologizing for the mess.
I pick my way down the stairs, smelling the stench of decaying milk. I hear the
noise of crunching glass, and the squelch of curdled milk underfoot. What was
the milkman doing there in the first place? The more mental 'hooks' and associations
you gather, the greater your chances of recalling the item
Stage 5:
I open the lounge door. Instead of seeing the lightbulb dangling
unobtrusively from the ceiling, it is sprouting from out of the floor, huge and
growing bigger by the minute.
I walk around it, feel the heat its enormous filament is generating, raise my
hands to protect my eyes from the glare. The bulb explodes and shatters into a
million myriad pieces. A sudden violent experience is always memorable. It is
important, however, to vary the scenes; overuse or repetition of a particular
dramatic effect will only confuse you.

Stage 6:
A football match is in progress in the kitchen. Crockery and ornaments lie
smashed on the floor.
The referee's whistle is shrill. Keep your surroundings as normal as possible. It
might be in disarray but it's still the same room. When you come to remember
a different list, the journey itself will still be the same - familiar and reliable.

Stage 7:
Someone has left a ladder leaning against my front door. I can't avoid
knocking it over.
My front door is not a room, but it is another stage on the route. I try to gauge
my reaction and timing. How quickly do I grab the rungs, or do I jump out of
the way? I hear the clatter of the metal as it crashes to the ground.

Stage 8:
A large grandfather clock is ticking away in my front garden, its hands
whizzing around backwards.
I am now outside. What is the weather like? Is it raining? If so, it will damage
the clock. I walk up to it, round it, see my face reflected in the glass. What time
is it? I've never heard such loud ticking.

Stage 9:
A tape measure is stretched out on the road as far as the eye can see.
I press the release mechanism and listen to the shuffle of metal as the tape
begins winding back into the spool at an ever increasing rate. I see the end
bobbing up and down as it catches against lumps in the road. I am frightened in
case it whips past and cuts me.

Stage 10:
My opposite neighbour has placed a huge, unsightly bowl in his garden.
'Dog' is written in garish red letters around the side. The bowl itself is yellow
and is so large that it completely obscures his house. Dog food is spilling over
the lip; great clods of jellied meat are landing in the street all around me.


Once you have created the ten images of your own at ten stages around your
house (try not to use my images or stages), you are ready to remember the list
by walking around the journey, starting with your bedroom. Review each
image. Don't try to recall the object word immediately. You will only get into a
panic and confirm your worst suspicions about your memory. There is no rush.
Put down this book and move calmly and logically from room to room in your
What is happening in your bedroom? You can hear a clicking sound...the
fishing rod...something slimy: a fish. You go to the bathroom, where you shower
every morning...the shower...something yellow oozing out of the head: margarine.
And so on.


I am confident that you will remember all ten items. If, however, your mind
went a complete blank at any stage, it means that the image you created was
not sufficiently stimulating. In which case, return to the list and change the
scene. Instead of the ladder falling at stage 7, for example, imagine climbing
up a very tall ladder and looking down at the tiny front door. It is windy up
there; you are swaying around a lot and feeling giddy. The simple rule of
thumb is that your brain, much like a computer (only better), can only 'output'
what you've 'input'.
Don't forget, you are exercising your imagination in a new way. Like any
underused muscle, it is bound to feel a bit stiff for the first few times. With
practice, you will find yourself making images and associations at speed and
with little effort.


Using a combination of bizarre images and the familiar routine of a wellknown
journey, you have stimulated your brain to remember ten random items.
You have done more than that, though. Inadvertently, you have repeated them
in exact order. Not really necessary for a shopping list, but very useful when it
comes to remembering a sequence, something we will come to later.
For now, content yourself with the knowledge that you can start at any stage
on the list and recall the items before and after it. Take the clock in the garden,
for instance, you know the ladder by the door must come before it, and the tape
measure in the street after it. The familiar journey has done all the work for
you. It has kept everything in its own logical order.
Don't be alarmed or put off by the seemingly elaborate or long-winded
nature of the method. With practice, your brain responds more quickly to creating
images on request. It can visualize objects in an instant (images that
might take a paragraph to describe); you just have to learn how to train and
control it. Before long, you will find yourself 'running' around the route, recalling the objects as you go.

There is also no danger that your head will become too cluttered with all
these strange images. The next time you want to remember another list, the
new images will erase the old ones. It is just like recording on a video tape.
The journey, of course, always remains the same.
It is comforting to know that you are merely developing the way in which
the brain already works, rather than teaching it a new method. It is generally
accepted that we remember things by association. If you are walking down the
street and see a car covered in flowers and ribbons, for example, an image of
your own wedding might flash across your brain. This, in turn, reminds you of
your husband or wife, and you recall, with horror, that it is your anniversary
tomorrow and you haven't done anything about it.

I will now show you an easy way to reinforce these associative images. I
know this all seems strange to begin with, but remember: your memory is limited
only by your imagination.


I have shown you how to remember ten items on a shopping list by placing
them along a familiar journey. Using image, colour, smell, feeling, emotion,
taste, and movement, you were able to recall the wilder fruits of your imagination
and, in turn, the relevant, mundane item.
This method is adequate for remembering a simple list; sometimes, however,
further reinforcement of the images is required, which is where the 'link
method' can be used. At each stage on the journey, try giving yourself a taste of
what is to follow.

For example, on our original shopping list, the first item was fish; the second,
margarine. I remembered the fish by imagining one flapping around at my
feet, hooked onto the end of my line. This time, I imagine the fish basted in
margarine because I am about to cook it. Or perhaps it flaps its way over to the
bedroom door, where a thick yellow liquid is seeping through by the floor.
The linked image should merely serve as a reminder of the next item on the
list. Be careful not to confuse the two items. The focal point remains the fish
and the bedroom.

At stage 2 of the journey, the bathroom, I imagine margarine dripping from
the showerhead. This time, using the link method, I see the vague image of
chess pieces moving around through the steamed-up glass door. And so on.
Try to make similar links for the rest of the list. The clock hands could be a
couple of rulers; the tape measure might be a dog lead. As it begins to recoil, a
large dog comes bounding up the road.

Once you feel confident about linking ten simple items, you will be able to
extend your journeys and the number of things you can memorize. When I
remember a pack of cards, for example, I use a journey with fifty-two stages
rather than ten. Sounds daunting? As long as you choose a journey you are
familiar with, nothing could be easier.

please try it and let me know how it goes...remember the secret is in practise,practice,practice

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 3

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 3

Clients come from all over greater Johannesburg. Others from other provinces who're
flying to their home countries from Johannesburg International Airport, make use of the dealers.
The dealers also have agents at the airport — some disguised as trolley-pushers. Their job is to
persuade African foreigners to come to Hillbrow and exchange their foreign currency at better
As usual, risk is not in short supply. Some foreigners never get to see Hillbrow. They lose
their money at gunpoint before they reach the black market. Others exchange money successfully
only to fall prey to scavenging thugs or patrolling cops.
Despite the clear and present dangers involved, it is easy to understand why many
African immigrants are cajoled into dealing on the black market and not with legal financial
The black market offers better rates of exchange than banks and other financial
institutions. But that's not all.
For Chibike and many other hustlers the problem is much bigger than opening bank
accounts. They all fear their money will be confiscated.
"If you tell di bank you're selling fufu and stew along di pavement an' in tree monts'
time you have R70 000 in your bank account, how will di bank react to dat? It's straight
confiscation, my brodda."
Outside Witberg's dark corridors, Chibike makes a call, speaking in broken French.
About 10 minutes later a black, luxury sedan with tinted windows pulls over. The door swings
open. Chibike gestures for me to sit in front.
"Nang ga def," I greet the pitch-black figure with thick gold chains wrapped around his
"Denge Wolof?" he asks me back in a thick Senegalese accent. Mbaye is his name. I tell
him I speak some Wolof (the common language of Senegal.) He heaves a sigh of relief and asks
if I trust the Nigerian, because some Senegalese have recently been killed. I ask him why he does
business with somebody he doesn't trust. He says risk is the name of the game.
"Naka ligi yebi?" — "How's business?" I ask. He replies that Allah is great. He tells me
we're heading to Kempton Park, on the East Rand, to meet the Russian black market dealers. If
the sum to be traded is more than $5 000 they go to the wholesalers. He says normally he would
go to the Pakistanis in Fordsburg, the Chinese in Bruma or the Italians in Norwood. But with
the death of the two Senegalese, black market retailers are playing Russian roulette.
We drive to his apartment in Berea. He lives with his Indian girlfriend and the apartment
is very oriental. The sofas are expensive. We sit and wait. Quarter-past-eight and Mbaye tells us
we leave in 15 minutes. He keeps his money under a thick, red Persian carpet. We root about
under the sofas and the carpet and stumble on wads of money.
He refuses to allow us to count the rands. He says he knows exactly how much there is.
We stuff the money inside torn soccer balls and squeeze everything into an expensive leather bag.
His girlfriend makes some strong Senegalese tea. He offers us two cups and tells us Allah will
protect us. He takes off the African dress he is wearing and reveals charms and amulets around
his waist and arms. He brags that no bullet can penetrate him.
Then he puts on boots, black jeans and a jacket. There are drawers underneath his bed.
He pulls one open. Out come an AK47 and magazines. He loads the AK and throws two full
magazines into the bag of money. He opens another drawer and removes a clarinet case. The
third drawer reveals all sorts of medication. He puts syringes, morphine, bandages, plaster and
a small iodine bottle inside the clarinet case.
"Dis is for GSW — gunshot wounds. If you get hit, make for de car before it's too late.
My advice: let de bullet go tru your body. I don't want screaming if de bullet is stock in your
body. It's easier to treat EW — exit wounds."
We hit the highway to Johannesburg International. "Can you drife at 180 and winding de lef
window down?" asks Mbaye.
"You're crazy," I shout back. He pulls over on the highway and asks me to take the
wheel. He says he wants to show me how to develop double concentration when I'm on the
"You have two seconds to look ahead of you and memorise de road and two seconds to
reach for de window winder. By de time you reach de winder, de road's two seconds have past.
You hold de winder and look ahead for two seconds again and back at de winder. If you can't
do it, you can't drive and spray bullets at de same time."
I try it at 120 km/h, running all over the road to a cacophony of hooting motorists. He
urges me to try again. By the time we hit the off-ramp to Pretoria I've mastered it. "Now 180.
It's de same technique," he shouts over a Youssou N'Dour mix playing in the background.
I indicate left as if going to the airport and then head straight to a Kempton Park
location where we park outside on the street in front of a white house with a red roof. It's dark
inside. Our only source of light is from a street lamppost.
"Is dis it?" inquires Chibike. Mbaye nods and asks us to cock our guns. "If dey ask
to si our stuff witout firs bringing deirs, know it's a set-up. Shoot your way out of here, or fall
My heart starts pounding. The silence becomes spooky. The dealers economise in
personnel as if wanting each one of us to be the hangman of the other two. "Dey're watching us,
trying to si if we wan to set dem up," Mbaye whispers.
I'm thinking "ambush". Looks like Chibike is thinking the same. "Wat's up with ya
guys?" he asks Mbaye, pulling out his gun. Mbaye gets out of the car, digs for a cigarette lighter,
lights it and holds it up in the air. Immediately lights are seen inside the house. The gates of
Hades flip open. No one need tell us that all who enter, lose hope of redemption.
Chibike is sweating. His eyes scrutinising like a medieval inquisitor; his finger on the
trigger. "Nigga, can we trust dem? If you make it out of here, don't forget what I told you at
Parklane. My bodi cannot be buried in South Africa."
"Welkom, three kings. My name is Dubronovich. Vwee spoke on ze phone. Jhust call
me Dubro as in Diablo." He's a huge unkempt Russian with tattooed forearms. He lets us
see his gun tucked in his tight-fitting jeans. "Zis is Katarina. She is strip-tease in our club in
Bedfordview. And zis of course is Balakov. He is short, but very good fighter."
We make our way into an elaborately furnished East European-style living room. Dubro
reaches for a remote and blasts gangster rapper 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying. "Okay, let
Katarina do drinks. I bring zer papers."
He comes back with three blue travelling bags. "Kongratulation, you zust won jhackpot,"
he says throwing the bags at us. The smell of blood and methylated spirits rises from the bags.
"Some of zer money is clean. Odder not. Is one for 5.5. You make point-five profit.
Now, are Roshans not best? Vwhy you buy from dose Italians? Zay fucking rob you," he says,
crashing heavily onto a sofa.
Chibike empties his bag. "Seventy tousan. Clean."
"Good. Zer is $13 000 in zat bag and $20 000 in odder two. You can keep change,"
says Dubro tearing open the bags.
Mbaye insists on cleaning the bloodstained notes before leaving. Chibike wants us to
leave ASAP. "I'm not going to count yor money. It better be right or vwee coming to Hillbrow,"
continues Dubro.
Spending so much time in the underworld has skewed dealers' visions of evil. Murder,
kidnapping or petty brutality are not in their purview. Instead, they've developed heightened
sensitivity to homely transgressions like cheating or failing to keep a promise.
The Russian dealers loan money to those who've been blacklisted, pawnshop and
nightclub owners, moneylenders and car dealers with no collateral to secure bank loans. Clients
pay back in dollars — usually after losing a lot of blood. The dollars are traded to black market
Dubro is a debt collector. He says they beat up a loan shark who borrowed money from
them and his blood spilled on the notes. I watch Chibike and Mbaye dip cotton into some liquid
and rub off the blood.
Moments later, without a rumour of a blush, Katarina asks if I've ever had a "Roshan"
massage. I shake my head. She gestures me upstairs. The music upstairs is Sergei Rachmaninov's
Adagio Sostenuto, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Number 2 in C minor, Opus 18.
A few minutes after she begins straddling me, rubbing her warm and soft breasts on my
back, I notice two shadows inside the room. I push her around to get a clearer view. Two pistols
are on my skull. Katarina soon adds hers.
"You are not black market dealer. Vwee see it in your eyes. Vwhy are you here?" It's
Balakov. Before I utter a word they cock their guns.
"Who are you? Tell us or vwee take you to basement."
"Easy guys. The cameras say he entered here without a gun. He is a man of peace," says
an elderly Russian standing in the doorway. The guns are withdrawn. "If you've never spilled
blood before, don't flirt with the devil. We always observe people doing business with us. When
you refused to touch blood money my men began feeling uneasy. If you're in this business, blood
becomes like water. Let him continue with the massage."
I refuse, telling them I've had enough. I join Mbaye and Chibike downstairs and ask if
we can go.
The Russians are laughing on their way down the stairs. I'm too shaken to handle the
steering wheel. Mbaye speeds us off back to safe Hillbrow.

Back at the hotel, Chibike counts the dollars. $13 000. Two thousand more than he'd
expected. "Nigga, we've journied togedder. Here's some bush for us." I decline the trophy. "Give
it to the brother of the Nigerian who got killed in Durban. It's my contribution to send the corpse
"What happened upstairs, Nigga, you never tol mi."
"The Russians had a gun to my head."
"Was dat your firs time? Did you feel dat headache?
"Di street huzzulers have a name for dat," he says. "We call it fire in the brains."



Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 2

Have you ever felt the sub-zero chill of a gun barrel on your skull — execution style?
When you have a gun to your head, thinking seems impossible. No coherent answers come in
response to the queries your assailants pose. Your brain’s vaporised — like 10 minutes ago.
Then the unmistakable happens. You develop a splitting headache. I call it the omega
headache. The kind that crowns all the headaches you’ve ever had on earth, as if to say: your
earthly headaches are over.
I’ve had a gun to my head twice. Kingston, a few years ago outside some ghetto club.
Two knock-around Jamaicans thought they’d found the tooth fairy in me. They wanted a Rolex
watch, credit card, coins and anything sellable. We wrestled in the dark. The Uzi spewed no
bullets. It wasn’t loaded. Jerks.
Fast forward. Kempton Park. The gun’s loaded. It’s South Africa. Don’t fumble. They
are Russian black market dealers. Three of them with drawn guns stand around me like a pack
of starving wolves over a bull calf. I’m helpless, half naked on a soft pink duvet — the one on
which moments before, a Russian blonde was massaging me. Soon it may be covered with blood.
I know the end is near. I can smell it. I’m certain my name’s already inscribed on a tombstone.
With guns gaping at me inside a love nest filled with the sweet fragrance of air freshener and the
blonde’s Chanel, my emotions become horrid premonitions as I try to recollect the odyssey that
has brought me here.
It’s true: At the point of death, your past hustles and bustles at you at the speed of
Like many scribes, I refuse to be inoculated with a vaccine the ancient Greek scholars
called Elected Blindness, or what crawlers of the underworld call “mind your own business”.
If I hadn’t taken an interest in the restless people around Hillbrow’s defunct Mimosa
Hotel and the nearby petrol station, I wouldn’t have met the Nigerian drug peddler Chibike.
After meeting him, I could have resisted the temptation of accompanying him to change his
rands into dollars on the black market. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe writes: “What kills
a man begins like an appetite.”
Inside a room at the Park Lane Hotel, I watch Chibike count the money we’ll be trading.
R70 000. He’s hoping to get $11 000 from his pile of rands. It will be the second time in four
months he’ll be changing rands to dollars. He says he intends going home this Christmas with
no less than $35 000. He changes money when he has a rand equivalent of $10 000.
I urge him to check the news for the exchange rates so that he can bargain better. He
refuses. On the black market it’s R6>$1 and it will remain so until the rand appreciates. Then the
Senegalese will adjust their prices to about R5.50 to the dollar. After some persuasion he agrees
to watch the news. The rand’s trading at R6.42 to the dollar. No luck.
We pack the R70 000 in several pairs of black socks. We top up the medium-sized
handbag in which we pack the socks, with shoes and other clothing items. Then we place fruit
on top to discourage cops from searching the bag too thoroughly.
“Karri dis,” Chibike says to me, handing me a 9 mm pistol. “You know di rules,” he
says. Then he whispers something to his South African girlfriend, Thandi. She walks slowly out
of the room.

“Nigga, if I don’t come back my girlfriend will know what to do wit di rest of di money.
If you make it, remind her dat my corpse cannot be buried in a foreign land.”
“We’re going to change money at the blackies right? We go hand them the money, get
$11 000 and we all go home, right?” I ask tremulously.
It’s the first time I see fear in his eyes. Chibike the brave, talkative, strong, proud ... is
reduced to a slacker of few words. “Hillbrow is unpredictable. Kristmas period is also di period
Nigerian huzzulers become hunted,” he says slowly, his muted despair capsizing my hope.
He asks for a cup of water as if a stranger in his own room. Three short knocks on the
door. That’s how Nigerian drug peddlers herald their presence to fellow tradesmen. “Gimme di
gun,” he whispers.
Slowly the door opens. Two hulking Nigerians fill the room. One carries a pen and a
piece of paper. “Don’t point it at us,” they chorus. Then they begin speaking in Ibo. The face
of the one with the writing materials is frozen in a rictus of grief. I can hear a little bit of what
they’re saying. Someone killed the wailing one’s brother in Durban. They’ve come to collect
money from each Nigerian in the area, to repatriate the body.
Chibike reaches for his special black hat and peels out R1 000 and signs. I tell them I’m
not loaded. They vamoose to the next room. As in rural Nigeria, drug peddlers in Johannesburg
have meetings where members contribute to the wellbeing of others, especially in the event of a
Chibike says Nigerians buried in South Africa were too proud to seek help from their
The door swings open again — this time without any knock. Thandi’s carrying something
in her handbag. She empties it. A sparkling semi-automatic pistol. Chibike tells me it’s unlicensed.
He’s given me his licensed gun so I don’t get into trouble should the cops become involved.
He shoves the semi-automatic into the breast pocket of his brown leather jacket.
“Thandi, don’t forget what I told you,” he says to her and embraces her. She’s sobbing.
Outside, some guys are plastering posters on the wall. The posters are of three Nigerians
killed in separate incidents. Chibike says at this time of the year one rarely finds a building
without posters such as these.
Witberg, along Olivia Road in Hillbrow, is just few blocks away. Chibike insists we take
a cab. He gives the driver R100 instead of the normal R20. “If I die, dat’s how he’ll remember
Although the Witberg apartments have been shut down, its previous occupants,
Senegalese black market dealers, still skulk in its shadows. Suspecting a West African, the dealers
approach passersby, and start negotiating rates. “One for 6.3. Everybody here knows I’m good
for it. If you don’t have 6.3, take my 5.7 for one. Don’t let the banks eat you. You’re West
African and a foreigner here, don’t be stupid. I’m your reliable banker ... ”
By “one for 6.3 ...”, they’re telling clients they sell $1 for R6.30 and they buy $1 for
R5.70. The moment they find out you’re a South African, they either scamper into the darkness
or offer astronomical rates to scare you off. And should you arouse their suspicion, you’re
begging for a bullet.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Psychological Operations

Psychological Operations or PSYOP are planned operations to convey selected
information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and
individuals. Used in all aspects of war, it is a weapon whose effectiveness is
limited only by the ingenuity of the commander using it.
A proven winner in combat and peacetime, PSYOP is one of the oldest weapons in the arsenal of man. It is an important force protector/combat multiplier and a non-lethal weapons system.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) or Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) is simply
learning everything about your target enemy, their beliefs, likes, dislikes,
strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your
target, you are ready to begin psychological operations.
Psychological operations may be defined broadly as the planned use of
communications to influence human attitudes and behavior ... to create in target
groups behavior, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national
objectives. The form of communication can be as simple as spreading information
covertly by word of mouth or through any means of multimedia.
A psychological warfare campaign is a war of the mind. Your primary weapons are sight and sound. PSYOP can be disseminated by face-to-face communication, audio
visual means (television), audio media (radio or loudspeaker), visual media
(leaflets, newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters), subliminally (high
frequency repetitive audio messages and micro-second flashes of images e.g. on
TV. or some websites). The weapon is not how its sent, but the message it
carries and how that message affects the recipient.
For instance, your country’s’ flag, when it flies in a sporting event or in a parade or when you hear our national anthem played do you feel a sense of pride?
.also when certain newspaper headlines accompanied by certain images affects the
entire mood at your workplace and its all the topic that day be it good or sad.
How does a woman’s wail in the night bring out all the neighbor’s ready to
respond to whatever the crisis the person may be going through…there is a
psychological link hardwired in the subconscious…..notice how politicians are
able to rally national support by picking on a neighboring country….
Some good uses of psychological messaging can be found hidden in nursery and early school rhymes,fables and stories which are loaded important life lessons and observations that most of us carry throughout life albeit absentmindedly.......

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

wanted to erase a painful memory?

All of us have wanted to erase a painful memory at some point.

Now scientists claim they are on the verge of a breakthrough after

finding a way to potentially delete trauma from our minds.

They have discovered a link between a protein called PKM and our

recollection of disturbing events.

Their study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, could have

profound implications for war veterans, the victims of violent

crimes and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lead researcher David Glanzman, from the University of California,

Los Angeles, said: 'I think we will be able to alter memories

someday to reduce the trauma from our brains.

'Not in the immediate future, but I think we will be able to go

into one's brain, identify the location of the memory of a

traumatic experience and try to dampen it down.

'We can do this in culture, and there is no essential difference

between the synapse in culture and the synapse in your brain.'

Professor Glanzman, a cellular neuroscientist, and his team

reported that they have eliminated, or at least substantially

weakened, a long-term memory in both the marine snail known as

Aplysia and neurons in a Petri dish.

The researchers said they have gained important insights into the

cell biology of long-term memory.

They discovered that the long-term memory for sensitisation in the

marine snail can be erased by inhibiting the activity of PKM, a

protein associated with memory.

The research could also help treat drug addiction, in which memory

plays an important role, and perhaps Alzheimer's disease and other

long-term memory disorders.The researchers studied PKM in the

marine snail, which has simple forms of learning and a simple

nervous system, so that they could understand in precise detail how

PKM's activity maintains a long-term memory, a process that is not

well understood.

They looked at a simple kind of memory called sensitisation. If

marine snails are attacked by a predator, the attack heightens

their sensitivity to environmental stimuli - a 'fundamental form of

learning that is necessary for survival and is very robust in the

marine snail,' Professor Glanzman said.

They succeeded in erasing a long-term memory, both in the snail

itself and in the circuit in the dish.

The researchers are the first to show that long-term memory can be

erased at a connection between just two neurons.

Monday, 2 May 2011

seven ways to spot a liar

Slips of the tongue
The mind is distracted with creating the next lie, or considering the fragility of the one just told.

Hesitation before answering
This means the person is considering any flaws in the deception about to be offered
Forced facial expressions, such as smiling too long
Done in order to convince the interviewer of their lack of worry.

Change in the rate of blinking or in the pitch of one’s voice
An uncontrollable reaction to guilt or the worry of being discovered.

Eyes that divert when the interviewer stares into them after a difficult question
Indicates worry that the investigator is going to pick up some “window to the soul” signal.

Increased hand activity, like fiddling with an object on the table in front of them
This is emotion being turned into a physical need to relieve the stress of lying. Or, as I have seen:

Sitting on their hands because they become conscious of the movement being a tell

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg

In Nigeria they have a saying: “He who ventures into the land of the dead must be
ready to dance with night spirits.” It’s a phrase that seems custom-made for Hillbrow’s overcast
drug underworld.
And any valiant heart that has dared to linger along this Joburg inner-city slum’s tapered
thoroughfares after 10 pm, especially over weekends, would agree that this dance could have
intricate — and often fatal — choreographies.
As I cruise along Louis Botha Avenue into Empire Road, I wonder what the many
people do who hang out next to the closed-down Mimosa Hotel and the nearby petrol station.
Adorned in sterling bling-bling that could bring eyesight to the blind, I can’t help noticing
them. They’re mostly garbed in imported fancy blue jeans, tight-fitting silk shirts to display their
muscles and scare off smash-and-grab thugs, and heavy Caterpillar boots or sparkling white
Puma, Adidas or Nike takkies.
To round it off, they’re usually leaning against something, feet and hands crossed, eyes
scanning their environment as they speak in loud voices.
Along Jagger Street, a rifle shot away from the Mimosa Hotel, are more buildings haunted
by those night spirits. Down Banket Street, close to Louis Botha, is the Safari Hotel. Night spirits
reign supreme outside its curio doors. I continue down Twist, across Van der Merwe, passing an
endless succession of closed-down residential hotels and high-rise apartment buildings. We all
know who the area boys are around here.
Down Pretoria Street, then east into Abel, past Tudhope to the intersection with Lily;
around the corner into Soper. The pattern continues: hotels and apartment buildings that are
“closed” yet occupied, like many other buildings in the area, mostly by Nigerians.
The truth is, drug peddlers have mapped out Hillbrow. It’s theirs and they won’t be
leaving it anytime soon. Many of the buildings are owned by Nigerian drug barons and they
let them out only to pushers, pimps and prostitutes. Shutting down the buildings won’t solve
anything. Ask the city council and they’ll agree. The drug peddlers mutate.
I had met a Nigerian after Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, in
Doornfontein, and asked if he could connect me with a drug peddler I could spend a night with
to see how business is done.
The Nigerian goes as James, although his real name is Iyke. He owns a TV repair shop
from which he earns his keep — legit, or so he says. After arriving in South Africa in 1995 he
peddled drugs at the notorious Statesman Hotel on Joel Street, made a killing — and decided to
go straight.
Many of his compatriots hankered after straight lives too but, alas, they weren’t smart
enough to dance with spirits. Their remains now lie in some cemetery, never to see home again.
Others are stuck deep inside Diepkloof prison.
James’s contact is Emmanuel, who sells rice and stew next to the Mimosa Hotel.
Everyone’s scared of being set up, so we slate a rendezvous at Emmanuel’s place. James tells me
we’re down for Wednesday 7 pm.
Wednesday night. Emmanuel — real name Chibike — lives in a flat in the Park Lane
Hotel. He used his South African girlfriend’s ID to get the place after the hotel’s management
purged the Nigerians a few years ago, blaming them for the building’s poor hygiene. The
management also claimed that the cops had repeatedly broken down the door to look for drug
dealers — all at the expense of the hotel.
Inside his bachelor flat on the seventh floor, Chibike kills the lights and lights a candle.
He opens the drawer of a small table and pulls out a sleek 9 mm pistol. My heart starts dancing
on my tongue. I am alone; Iyke left shortly after introducing me to Chibike.
“Do you want to bicom a huzzuler, my men?” he asks, his fiery red eyes piercing mine
as he tries to decipher my motives.
“Only for one night,” I stammer, scanning the room for the nearest exit. He flings the
gun at me. “Have you fired one before — I mean at somebody?”
Before I can respond he gestures for me to hand it back. Then he begins demonstrating.
On the street, never hold the gun with two hands — only gays or women do that. Never hold
the gun with one hand, the other supporting it underneath — it shows you had some military
Because the street is so vast and unpredictable, and you might find yourself surrounded,
you should hold the gun with one hand, spraying bullets at the person who set you up, while
using the other hand to ward off other advancing attackers, all the while using your head to look
for a way to get out of the mess.
Chibike then walks up to me and feels my arms. About 2 kg of raw muscles each. My
chest, about 6 kg. My height: 1.83 m. “My men, Iyke told me you used to play soccer. Huzzuling
is like soccer. You have to out-muscle the other guys if a jonkie pulls over,” he says, adding that
with good physique you can gain area control.
After cross-examining me to make sure I’m not trying to set him up, Chibike finally
agrees to take me to the street on a Friday — month-end. We’ve spoken in Pidgin, English and
some Ibo. As I dash out of the room, he warns me once more about what happens to people who
set other people up.
I spend several hours in the gym on Thursday. Friday morning I read Chinua Achebe’s Eze
Goes to School to prepare myself mentally and to polish my knowledge of Nigerian society.
The door swings open on a chilly Friday night. Chibike is busy cutting chunks of rock
cocaine into smaller pieces (atuke in street Ibo and orgu in real Ibo). Each costs R50. The loading
Chibike lies down on his stomach on the bed. His girlfriend lines little white rocks tied in blue
plastic bags along his spine. Then she plasters them down and applies iodine to the plaster.
It’s a trick to fool the cops. They usually do not search people’s backs, so that’s where
peddlers hide “kommodity”. If they do happen to search a back, the cops get the smell of iodine.
The peddler tells them that he’s just out of hospital after a back operation. To get your hands on
a rock, simply pretend to scratch your back and peel off a batch.
Next are Chibike’s shoes. The soles come off and rocks are hidden inside the cavity. He
slips the 9 mm inside his socks and hands me a revolver.
“I hear you’re Katholic and sings Latin kantor during the 11 o’ klok Mass. I love hearing
Latin at Mass. Say some prayers in Latin — it might be our last,” he says as he tucks in an
expensive blue-black shirt and reaches for a black leather jacket.
I pant and then stammer: “Deus in adjutorium meum intende. Domine ad adjuvandum
me festina. Amen.” (“Oh God come to my assistance. Oh Lord make haste to help me. Amen.”)
We all shout “amen” and make the sign of the cross.
“Let’s make monie, my men.”
We flag down a cab in front of the Hillbrow Inn. Chibike says peddlers at the Inn cater
for the prostitutes and pimps there as well as for clients from the Summit Club. He points to
two guys leaning against a wall outside the Inn. “They’re South Africans. They huzzule ganja
As the cab waits for traffic to clear along Claim, Chibike points to a group of kids under
a tree next to the Twilight Children street shelter at the corner of Van der Merwe. He says they’re
selling mandrax.
A fact of the Hillbrow scene is that the various drug dealers all stick to one type of drug.
Cocaine is left to the Nigerians. Mandrax and ganja are sold by South Africans. Don’t try asking
the wrong dealer for the wrong drugs — especially at night.
Cocaine peddlers will tell you there are two types of junkies: clean and dirty. Corporate
types are clean junkies. The peddlers say they’re usually white or Indian. Prostitutes, pimps,
strippers and members of Hillbrow’s new black and coloured gay community are called dirty
How do they get their names? It’s simple: clean junkies don’t waste time asking for
discounts or for peddlers to sell them half of a R50 rock. They don’t attempt to swop takkies or
black-and-white TV sets or sex for drugs. They don’t even enter Hillbrow without first making
a few phone calls. In short, like the Nigerian drug peddlers would say, “Clean jonkies pai flat.”
In Hillbrow there are very few new junkies. If you were to encounter a new one, he
would most likely be accompanied by an old bird who knows the terrain and already has a
It’s a big gamble to buy or sell drugs, even for seasoned dealers and their clients. Nobody
rushes to meet a car. You wait for a car to slow down and the driver to lower his window and
signal “5” or “10” with his fingers to indicate how much cocaine he wants to buy. “Five” is a
R50 rock and “10” is two R50 rocks. Not knowing this code has cost lives.
Clean junkies are drug peddlers’ best payers — and their worst nightmares. It’s very easy
for clean junkies to set the dealers up or to orchestrate a big bust. However, it is fascinating to
see how clean junkies are approached by the dealers.
To circumvent a potential set-up, a peddler puts a R50-rock in his mouth, his index
finger on the trigger of the 9mm in his jacket and his right hand on the roof of the car as he talks
to the buyer. When the junkie passes R50 the hustler spits the drugs into the car.
The risks are always there. A peddler might trick a junkie by selling him soap wrapped
in plastic. Or a junkie might give the dealer counterfeit money and speed off with the drugs.
Quite rarely do they pull tricks on each other at the same time. If it does happen, the dealers say:
“When a crook crooks another crook, the devil smiles.”
Cops often grab peddlers by the throat to prevent them from swallowing the drugs
— but then the dealer could pull a gun. Peddlers used to put their hands and head into a car to
collect money and chat to a client, but this has often proved fatal.
Outside the petrol station on Louis Botha, Chibike introduces me to a group of hustlers.
Some are wearing balaclavas to ward off the cold. They all call me “nigga”.
As Chibike rushes to a client in a black Mercedes-Benz, a hustler called Chinedu
approaches me. “If you’re new in dis bisinezz I tink you must start tolkin with di dirty jonkie.
Some of di dirty jonkies will one day bring you a clean jonkie and if you treat dem nice, money
will start rollin in within a munth’s time.”
Chinedu says he’s from Abba in eastern Nigeria. He tells me that the thought of spending
the rest of his life behind bars is the one thing that scares drug peddlers like himself to death.
“Nigga, I tell you, do whotever is possible not to go to jail in this kountry. Our people
are pripared to pay thousands of bush [dollars] to avoid jail. If you go to jail, pay it to the cops.
After all, you can make 10 000 bush in less than a munth’s time.”
I also find out from Chinedu that drug peddlers are damned superstitious. For example,
they believe that if you kill someone, you must not allow the victim’s blood to touch any part of
your body, as the killer will inherit all the victim’s sins.
Soon Chibike comes back, takes me behind a lamppost and gives me R300 to hide inside
a special black cap he’s given me. He says Hillbrow police have become clever. “They know we
always hide money in our socks or inside our shoes. To survive in Hillbrow you have to be a step
ahead of di police all di time.”
Then he reaches for his shoes, rips open the right sole and empties its content into his
big palm. He hands me a razor blade and asks me to split the rocks in half.
“It’s after midnight,” he says. “Dirty junkies are soon coming. Strip shows in di hotels
around here start at 1 am. You have to start huzzuling them dirty junkies. Oya, let me show you
how tu do it.”
He asks me “not to listen to stories from dirty jonkies and to be aware of the cops”
— whom I’ve now learnt are called snakes (eke or aguo in street Ibo).
Selling to dirty junkies requires a different method. After slicing each R50-rock into two
R25-pieces, we hide the drugs under pebbles on a nearby pavement.
When a dirty junkie approaches, you chat amicably, collect R25 — some junkies swear
they have only R20, only to pop out another R20 after they finished “drawing” the first rock —
and point to a particular pebble. The junkie lifts the pebble and heads off with the merchandise.
This way hustlers can’t be set up.
My first client is Amanda, a Summit Club stripper. Her tousled face tells the story of
someone who’s been in and out of rehab before finally succumbing to the lethal sting of crack
cocaine. She’s nearing 40 and Chinedu tells me she used to work at Hillbrow police station.
“Where’s Tony? I’m talking to no one but Tony,” squeaks the dirty brunette. Chinedu
begins to bark, pointing at me, “Here’s Tony’s brodda. You can buy from him. Don’t we have di
same stuff like Tony?”
Cocaine peddlers are known to their clients as Mike or Tony. Chinedu says it often
happens that a junkie who’s new to the scene would walk into a crowd and ask for Tony — not
knowing that he’s staring at a whole bunch of Tonys.
“Tony treats me nice. He supplies me with a pipe free of charge. Are you Tony’s brother?”
she asks, drunk and irritable. She hands over R15. “This is all I have, but I promise you I’ll be
back with the rest. I’ll bring my friends.”
I decide to gamble without telling Chibike. Amanda staggers off into the dark. By 3 am she’s
back. For once a junkie told the truth. She has three girls with her.
“This is...”
“Nigga, Tony’s brodda,” I finish her sentence. One of the ladies pops out R100, saying
she doesn’t want to have to come again because it’s too cold. The other gives me R20 and
Amanda waves R50.
They’re back half an hour later.
By 5 am I’ve lost track of the amount of cash I have on me. It’s beginning to drag me
Chinedu and some other hustlers approach me. They’ve heard that I speak a few
languages. They’ve been looking for an agent to be stationed in Brazil (Obodo Pele in street
Chinedu says because he and the others can speak only Ibo and a bit of English, they
have difficulty controlling business from Portuguese-speaking Brazil. As a result the flow of
drugs into South Africa has been punctuated by mishaps — dealers have been set up in South
America and cartel representatives have run off with huge sums of money.
“If we had our own guy there we’d be able to start our own group and kut out di
middleman who always let us down,” says one of the hustlers. And they’re willing to pay.
They’re always on the lookout for “pipole who’re serious about bisinezz” — legal
representatives, dealers, agents to be stationed in Latin America, drug distributors, trustworthy
bankers, club owners who’ll let them sell to patrons.
But before I can be lured by their promises of big money, Chibike arrives. “It’s six . Let’s
go. Another group is coming now.”
Back at the Park Lane we count our takings. I’ve made over R1 000 while Chibike has
made about R4 500. His girlfriend, meanwhile, has prepared huge pots of rice and stew for
Chibike to sell on the pavement. A plate costs R5. This operation makes them over R2 000 a
Two plates are served. We wash them down with soft drinks. Chibike will get two
hours’ sleep; he has to be ready to sell rice and stew by 8 am. He knocks off at 3 pm, goes to the
supermarket to buy stock for the next day — and then he heads for “the blackies to change rands
to bush”.
The drug peddlers name each currency they trade in after that country’s leader. “Bush”
is their parlance for dollars; British pounds are called “Thatchers”. Countries are named after
great personalities, which is why Brazil is called “Pele”.
These names are used both to fool the cops and to determine who’s coming to set you
“Blackies” — black-market dealers — are Senegalese who change rands into other
currencies. Chibike wants me to come along.
The world of the blackies is intricate and murky, perhaps even more so than that of the
drug peddlers. That’s why their story has not yet been written. The dance of the spirits never